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Series / Girlfriends

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L-R: Toni, Maya, Joan, Lynn.
"My girlfriends/
there through thick and thin
My girlfriends/
there for anything
My girlfriends..."
- Series Theme Song

One of the longest-running sitcoms with a predominantly African American cast, Girlfriends aired on UPN (2000–06) and then The CW (2006–08). The show centered around a group of women friends in Los Angeles: Joan Clayton (Tracee Ellis Ross), Maya Wilkes (Golden Brooks), Lynn Searcy (Persia White), and Toni Childs (Jill Marie Jones). Jones left after the sixth season.

The series ran for eight seasons until it was cancelled in early 2008, partly because of the writer's strike that year. Executive produced by, of all people, Kelsey Grammer.

Not to be confused with the 1978 film of the same title, the 2018 ITV drama series, or the manga Girl Friends.

Later spun off The Game (2006), and the show also shares a universe with Moesha and The Parkers.



  • A Degree in Useless: Lynn has five degrees but can never manage to hold down a job.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Toni and Todd in the third season, which results in a wedding at the end of the third season.
  • Birds of a Feather: William and Joan, as friends. Part of the reason why William starts to pursue Joan near the end of season 4 is because of how alike they are. They date in Season 5.
  • Black and Nerdy: William fits this. He loves comic books and other geeky pursuits.
  • Black Republican: William is a Republican, and it occasionally leaves the women wondering just why he is one if he's black. He’s uptight and nerdy, fitting the stereotype.
  • But Not Too Black: Subverted with the main cast, which has a range of skin tones. Dealt with In-Universe, with a episode about Toni (who has the darkest skin tone within the group) rejecting a date because she refuses to date dark-skinned black men. Toni's justification is that she faced a lot of colorism growing up and doesn’t want her future children to be subject to the same hurtful comments that she dealt with. Also dealt with Lynn, who was raised by a white family and only started exploring her blackness when she became an adult. When Lynn gets a record deal, her label flat out tells her they don’t know how to market her indie music because she neither looks nor “sounds” black enough.
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  • Break the Haughty: Toni is dumped by Greg (after he finds out she cheated on him with Clay), and after that she loses her job, and then Joan stops being her friend. After a particularly cruel revenge scheme by Greg, Toni starts spiraling out of control, having a Freak Out in a clothing boutique. Maya and Lynn then retrieve her, and they go to a church service where Toni decides to become a Christian and she and Joan make up.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Lynn is well educated and intelligent, but has no direction in life and doesn’t work or have a place of her own.
  • Catchphrase: Maya's "Oh hellllllll no" Once per Episode.
  • Censor Box: Used on the girls and background characters when they visit a nude beach, with a few shots using Toplessness from the Back.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the early season, the show included Joan breaking the fourth wall to comment on the action, complete with Imagine Spots.
  • Extreme Libido: Sean, Joan's steady boyfriend in season 1, is a recovering sex addict.
  • Friends with Benefits: Lynn and William start sleeping together as friends during the time they're roommates. Joan freaks out about this changing their dynamic, but they wave off her concerns. This does eventually lead to some complications and leads them briefly eloping, but they end up divorcing just as quickly and decide they Better as Friends without the benefits.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: Joan is the Leader/ Team Mom, Toni is The Chick, Maya is The Lancer, and Lynn is The Ditz.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Joan is Melancholic (goal-oriented but neurotic), Toni is Choleric (rude and prissy, but also a leader in her own right), Maya is Sanguine (uncouth but sociable) and Lynn is Phlegmatic (kind and non-judgemental, but a slacker).
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: Joan, Maya and Lynn all get significant one on one time with male friend William throughout the series, but Toni very rarely interacts with William outside of a group. Later, in Season 7 when Monica permanently joins the group (after several guest appearances over several seasons), both Joan and Lynn take several episodes to bury the bad blood between themselves and Monica, leading to quite a few one-on-one interactions between Monica and Joan/Lynn. That did not happen with Maya, despite hating Monica as much as the other two.
  • Full-Name Basis: Toni Childs always refers to herself as Toni Childs.
  • Gag Penis: One of the shows Running Gags is jokes about William's huge member, fitting the Black Is Bigger in Bed stereotype. Lynn even calls him "Big Willy". But also according to Lynn, he actually averts the Bigger Is Better in Bed trope, as she found him a mediocre lay.
    Lynn: Just because a man has a 747 doesn't mean he knows how to land it.
  • Good Bad Girl: Lynn, who isn't shy about sharing the fact that she's had a lot of sex. She's a lot less judgemental in regards to sex and mistakes and usually helps the other women open their minds.
  • Happily Adopted: Lynn, a biracial woman, is adopted by a white family, but feels little angst about it.
  • Hartman Hips: A male example; Joan dates Marcus and things are going well, until she finds a girdle in his room. She thinks he's cheating but then he reveals the girdle is for him, and he uses it to hide his large hips.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Joan and Toni until the end of season 6
  • Homosexual Reproduction: William is the biological father of his sister's girlfriend's baby, having donated his sperm to them. He refers to the child as his "nephew-son''.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Joan becomes one when she starts dating William in season 5, and finds it hard to have measure up to William's previous lover Lynn, who is a Sex Goddess. Lynn manages to calm down Joan by telling her William's actually pretty mediocre in bed, which somehow cheers her up but leaves William quite upset.
  • It's All About Me: Toni, who is incredibly self-centered at times. Joan has her moments as well.
  • Jerkass Ball: Every other arc had one of the girls suddenly acting extremely selfish and overbearing, such as Lynn selling bootleg copies of Maya's novel.
  • Left Hanging: Girlfriends was abruptly canceled in 2008, leaving the storyline unfinished.
  • Long Runner: Ran for 8 seasons from 2000 to early 2008.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Maya has shades of this, and Toni certainly thinks of her like one. The other women are educated and/or having high-paying careers, which in comparison makes Maya feel like she's "ghetto" as she lives in a working-class neighborhood (the same one Moesha lives in, in fact) and married her high-school sweetheart and already has a child.
  • Never My Fault: Toni blamed Joan for breaking her and Greg up because she inadvertently told Greg that Toni was planning to break up with him. Never mind that Toni was the one who cheated on Greg and caught an STI and nearly passed it to Greg.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Since Status Quo Is God, Lynn is never able to hold any job and keeps changing them or becoming unemployed again, despite having over 5 degrees.
  • N-Word Privileges: Tanya, Lynn's white sister, thinks she has this because she's a fan of Black culture, especially compare to uptight Joan and no-biracial Lynn. She does not.
    Lynn: You've gone too far this time! You're not Black! Stop trying to be Black!
    Tanya: Oh, ain't this a trip. All of a sudden you're the authority on what's black? You— two years ago you were a biracial grunge girl, and a couple years before that, you were just some preppy white girl.
    Lynn: That doesn't matter, because when you use that word, only one of us gets hurt. And there is pain behind it that you will never know!
  • Office Romance: William had a romantic relationship with his office partner, Sharon, much to the disgust of Joan who loathes her.
  • The One Guy: William is the only regular male main character, and the only man that hangs with the girlfriends.
  • One of the Girls: William is the only male friend that the group hangs out with, he's made it clear that he would only be attracted to them in the right circumstances. He and Lynn actually start being Friends with Benefits in season two before they both end it due to it feeling weird.
  • Poisonous Friend: Toni Childs to Joan, but most of the main four have had shades of being this to each other
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy
    • Charles Swedelson, Joan's and William's white supervisor, tends to use "hip-hop" and "urban" euphemisms towards Joan and William to appear more laid back and sociable.
    • Lynn's white adoptive sister is this, to the point where she criticizes Black women like Lynn and Joan for not being Black enough. She also thinks she has N-Word Privileges. She does not.
  • Pretty Freeloaders: Lynn, who in the pilot episode gets kicked out of Toni's place, and has been a squatter at one time or another in Joan's house, Joan's yard, Maya's spare room, William's house and William's yard.
  • Put on a Bus: Toni after the end of season 6, she leaves town after a major rift in her friendship with Joan and to be closer to her ex-husband whom she shares custody of her daughter with.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: The show was initially Sex and the City except with black women, but the show quickly grew out of this towards the end of season one and focused more on Character Development.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: Niecy (Shar Jackson) from Moesha shows up in season 1 as a patron at Davis's restaurant, and in the backdoor pilot for The Game (2006), Melanie and Malik are present.
  • Runaway Bride: In this case, runaway groom with Darnell running back to Maya, and getting back together at the end of season 5.
  • Running Gag:
  • Sassy Black Woman: All of the Girlfriends to various extents, but more so with Maya and Toni.
  • Sexiness Score: In "All in a Panic", when Lynn is talking about her previous sex life with William, Lynn says he was actually surprisingly mediocre in bed, rating him a "4 out of 10 and that's rounding up". William gets very upset when he learns and even attempts to argue with Lynn to give him a better score.
  • Shout-Out:
    • There was an episode when William was learning to hold a baby with a practice doll. At one point, he gave the doll to Maya, who left it on the patio... and a dingo ate it.
    • When planning a bachelor party, for William when he was going to marry Yvonne Joan says that Timothy Murphy sent regrets, as he is prisoner 024601.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Mostly the focus for Joan and Toni’s storylines, although Toni would add “rich” to her wishlist.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Stan and Maya engage in an emotional affair, one Maya ends once Stan kisses her (badly), killing any type of attraction she had to him. Maya gets Lynn's help in breaking it off with Stan, but then Stan starts hanging around Darnell as a friend and threatens to tell Darnell all about their affair.
  • STD Immunity: Averted when Toni cheats on Greg with a doctor.
  • Team Mom: Joan, who feels the need to take care of everyone.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Lynn crashed on Joan's couch and wouldn't leave for 8 years. She later also stayed with Toni, before getting a place in Maya's mom's garage.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: When Toni asks for Lynn's help with her wedding night, Lynn immediately assumes she mans a threesome and gets excited at the prospect and is disappointed to learn Toni just wants her advice.